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  • Lars Lawson

COMMUNITY COMMENT: State should release funds to boost recycling, employment.

Now more than ever, Indiana has an opportunity to grow green jobs by investing in recycling.

With many thousands of Hoosiers employed in the manufacturing of aluminum, glass, plastic, paper and steel, Indiana is well positioned to grow jobs in these commodity manufacturing sectors by supporting recycling.

Why? We hear from these manufacturers every day as they scramble to find recycled material. They know that using recycled material instead of raw material significantly reduces their energy costs — by 95 percent for aluminum — while also reducing pollution generated during the manufacturing process. With rising shipping costs, the case for using local recycled material instead of raw material (often transported from distant locations) grows stronger every day.

Lowering costs and reducing a plant’s carbon footprint clearly give an in-state manufacturer two strong competitive advantages.

Two years ago the state of Indiana froze recycling funds paid for with a landfill fee. This fee is collected for the sole purpose of supporting Indiana’s recycling infrastructure.

Last fall, Gov. Mitch Daniels’ administration released $500,000 of about $10 million in the state fund dedicated to supporting recycling. This money was invested in four companies that are on track to create at least $9 million in new manufacturing and processing capacity and to hire 200 new employees.

Now that we are entering an economic recovery, it’s time to release all of these recycling funds to grow Indiana’s green economy while creating a more sustainable environment. Using these funds now, as they were intended, would stimulate additional private-sector investment and create even more jobs.

Investing these state dollars in improvements to residential recycling programs would mean much of the household “waste” going to landfills and incinerators could instead be made available to in-state manufacturers.

With a recycling rate known to be well below the national average (but difficult to pinpoint due to a lack of reporting requirements), Indiana has plenty of room to grow.

Let’s deliver the residential recycling programs that Hoosiers want while helping the state’s manufacturers to become more competitive in the global marketplace.

Carey Hamilton is executive director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition.


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